France, 1861. When an epidemic threatens to wipe out the silk trade in France, Herve Joncour, a young silk breeder, has to travel overland to distant Japan, out of bounds to foreigners, to smuggle out healthy silkworms. In the course of his secret negotiations with the local baron, Joncour's attention is arrested by the man's concubine, a girl who ...
France, 1861. When an epidemic threatens to wipe out the silk trade in France, Herve Joncour, a young silk breeder, has to travel overland to distant Japan, out of bounds to foreigners, to smuggle out healthy silkworms. In the course of his secret negotiations with the local baron, Joncour's attention is arrested by the man's concubine, a girl who does not have oriental eyes. Although they are unable to exchange so much as a word, love blossoms between them, a love that is conveyed in a number of recondite messages. How their secret affair develops is told in this remarkable love story. As haunting as a strain of passionate music, Silk is an enchantment, an exquisite narrative and a stylistic tour de force.
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Publishers Weekly, 1997-09-01 In 1861, after plague has destroyed the silkworms in the Middle East and Africa, French merchant Herv? Joncour travels to JapanŠa country of which little is known to the FrenchŠin search of healthier, better silk. Flouting a Japanese law against exporting silkworms, Joncour leaves his loving wife for what will be the first of many four-month journeys through Europe, Russia and Siberia to Japan, where he befriends a wealthy Japanese trader and falls in love with his beautiful young mistress. With each trip, Joncour's expectations of closer contact with the young woman escalate, as does the danger of his journey. Joncour finally receives a letter from the concubine, which he must take for translation to a Japanese woman living in a neighboring French village The letter encourages Joncour to travel to Japan one last time; what he finds there will change his life forever. Baricco, winner of the Prix Medicis and other awards for his two previous novels, uses the precise, formal language of the 19th-century realists to evoke exotic settings, vivid characters and historical details. Written in 65 spare chapters (some less than a page long, some evolving into verse), Barrico's fairy tale of East and West weaves a fine, tight fabric of recurrent phrases and motifs, a novel as delicate and strong as its subject. (Oct.) FYI: Silk, a bestseller in Italy and in the U.K., will be published in 16 languages, including Japanese. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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